What to say to your daughter….when asked to send nudes

Take a seat. Here are two truths that you need to know: Your 13-year-old daughter is watching Euphoria, including all the cringe-worthy sex scenes. And she’s been asked to send “nudes” (for those of us who are blissfully unaware, those are nude photos).

When I surveyed one of my groups, they told me they first learned about sending nudes as early as 4th and 5th grade. Yikes! In the 80’s, I was the only one wearing a bra in 5th grade and that was a lot to deal with.

Now that you know…take a breath! (Ok, maybe another one.) We’re here to help you navigate the dreaded conversation about nudes. Plus we’re sharing something you can forward to your tween or teen daughter, niece, friend or loved one.

Some girls don’t send the nudes…and worry they’ll lose the relationship. Other girls do send the nudes…and worry that their photos will be shared, and they’ll lose respect or privacy. Either way, it doesn’t feel great.

We want girls to know:

People who truly like you won’t be upset if you say no to this—or anything else.

You are worthy no matter what anyone else thinks of you.

You don’t owe anyone anything.

And there’s no sugar coating this part: Sending nudes is not a good idea. We won’t go into all the legal boring stuff, but know that even on Snapchat, the picture can be screen-shotted and saved in someone’s phone FOREVER!!! This isn’t an episode of Euphoria—this is real life, and once you send someone a nude, you can’t control what will happen to it. (But if you’ve already sent one, you are still worthy. No matter what.)

So keep your clothes on and know that there are much better ways to connect with people you like! You’re probably already doing some of those things, and they are enough.

If you’re a mom wanting to talk with your daughter:

The truth is, nobody wants to talk about this, me included. But we’re here, and we know it’s important, so here are some things you can do to help the conversation go as smoothly as possible (sorry, we don’t have a magic wand to make it less awkward):

  • Do what you can to feel calm and prepared before the talk–take deep breaths, dance it out, or talk with a friend. Screaming into a pillow can help, too!
  • Remember this is about connection, not perfection.
  • If anything comes up mid-conversation you’re not ready for, tell her you’ll circle back with her soon. This gives her permission to do the same!
  • Once it’s over, celebrate yourself. You made it! And then start planning for the next one. This is an ongoing conversation!

We’ve created a script you can start from, with some examples of things you could say:

  1. Acknowledge that this might feel awkward…for you both!
    We need to talk about something that will probably feel cringey for us both, but it’s important.

Nobody wants to talk about sex stuff with thier mom, but it’s important, so here we go.

2. Directly state that she might be asked to share nudes.
You might already know this, but one day you might have someone ask you to send photos of yourself naked.
Sometimes people ask girls to share naked pictures of themselves over text, Snapchat, or something like that.

3. Show that you understand how this might make her feel and the pressure she might face.
Being asked to send nudes doesn’t mean anything about you, and it can also feel weird or uncomfortable. You might not be sure what to do or say.
You might feel like you have to say yes or this person won’t like you any more, or you have to do it because other girls do.

4. Clearly state she should not send these photos, and brainstorm reasons together.
You should not send nude photos of yourself to anyone.
Can you think of some reasons you should not send them?

5. Check in with her.
How are you feeling so far?
Do you have any questions?

6. Talk about what she can do if she’s asked. You can use the script in the next section as inspiration.
If someone asks you to send a nude photo, what might you say to them?
You can come to me if it happens and we can decide what to do together. We might both have some big feelings, but it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong or I’m upset with you. You’re not alone in this.

7. Let her know this conversation is ongoing.
There’s a lot for us both to think about. You can come talk to me any time you have thoughts or questions. Let’s talk about this again soon. I love you.

If you’re being asked to send nudes and feeling the pressure:

We get it. You might really care about the person asking. You might be afraid they’ll ditch you if you say no. You might feel like you have to keep up with friends or other girls you know.

It’s ok to say no–and actually, it’s important to! We’ve got your back, so we’re going to show you how.

But we need to say this first: If you’re asked out of the blue, by someone you don’t know very well, or by someone you don’t want to talk to, remember that no is a full sentence. And ghosting someone is always an option. (Also, block them and ask for help from someone you trust.)

Ok. Now let’s assume someone you actually know and like has asked you for a nude. The first thing to do is…nothing. Take a minute–and by a minute, think anywhere from 60 seconds to a week.

Use that time to prepare your no. Here are some things you could say:

  1. Show that you care:
    I really like you.
    This relationship is important to me.
  2. Say no:
    I don’t feel comfortable sharing that with you.
    I’m not going to send you a nude photo.
  3. Ask for what you need and/or use humor change the conversation:
    Can we talk about plans for this weekend instead?
    Have you finished your math homework yet? I thought the second part was pretty hard.
    Here’s a photo of _____ instead. (My new puppy, a funny face, whatever feels fun to you)

If they don’t take no for an answer (so frustrating, right?), you can use this script: When you ____, I feel _____. Please _____.

When you ask for nudes after I’ve already said no, I feel like you don’t respect me. Please stop asking.

When you ask for nudes over and over, I feel like you don’t care about me as a person. Please don’t ask again.

If they keeeeep asking (ugh!), it’s time to block them and ask for help from someone you trust. We know it’s painful to lose somebody you like–but so is doing something you don’t feel good about. There are so many other ways to show your awesomeness besides sending nudes! And you are awesome, no matter what.

If you’ve sent nudes and are feeling regret or shame:

Maybe you were promised a relationship…and it didn’t happen. Maybe someone betrayed your trust. Maybe you just plain wish you hadn’t done it.

We know how icky shame and regret can feel. How do we know? Because they happen to everyone! So first, know you’re not alone.

Also know that staying stuck in those feelings won’t fix anything or help you feel better. Try this:

  • Start with self-compassion.

    Brene Brown tells us that empathy and self-compassion are what help most when we feel shame.

    Think about how you might talk to a friend if she’d done something and later wished she hadn’t. Would you tell her how much she messed up and that she’s a bad person (or whatever the story is you’re telling yourself)? Probably not.

    Try telling yourself those same things. It can help to say them out loud, even if it feels a little silly! “Self, you are not a bad person. You made a choice because you needed or wanted something, and that’s ok. You get to be a human who makes mistakes. I love you no matter what.”
  • Figure out why you said yes. What need were you trying to meet?

    I tell my clients all the time there’s a reason we do what we do. And being curious rather than judgmental (as hard as that might feel!) can be the thing that helps you feel better and keep moving forward.

    I’ll put it another way: Think about why you said yes.

    One possibility? We all crave attention, and let’s be honest–that moment you realize someone thinks you’re awesome feels so good. We’ve all been there, wanting to impress a potential crush or romantic partner.

    Another possibility? Maybe you were feeling left out because all your friends have partners, you might have been feeling pressure from someone you truly care about, or maybe you just want someone to notice your awesomeness.

    Whatever the reason, knowing what it is can help you be kind to yourself. If you want to repeat the whole talking-to-yourself thing, you can say something like, “Ohhh, it makes so much sense that you said you. You thought it would help you get what you need. It didn’t, and that doesn’t make you bad or wrong. You can try other ways next time.”

No matter what your final take ways are….

Note to Self: Send Cute Dog Pics not Nudes

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